'American Idol’ is shamelessly cashing in on Claudia Conway’s viral fame

American Idol on Twitter
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Folks on TikTok have known for a while what ABC started capitalizing on this week: Claudia Conway auditioned for American Idol back in November. A new promo for the reality singing competition’s 19th (!) season premiere centers on the 16-year-old’s bid for stardom that has nothing to do with social media or her parents’ politics. Can Claudia carry a tune? Idol judge Katy Perry demands you must tune in on February 14 to find out.

Obviously, this is a shameless publicity stunt on American Idol’s behalf. Claudia basically admitted as much on TikTok Monday night, noting she was invited to audition late last year. “I was like, ‘Oh shit, yeah.’ Who wouldn’t?” the teen said, noting she’s been “singing [her] whole life.” In ABC’s promo, Perry appears to give Conway a hard time: “We want an American Idol,” she says reproachfully, before the camera cuts to a somber-looking Claudia.

But the pop star’s social media tells a different story. “Well, well, well. Let the games begin, because Claudia just tried out for American Idol,” she crows in a selfie video with Conway, who’s all smiles this time.

You don’t keep a reality singing competition on the air for almost two decades by being respectful of people’s trauma, I guess. Because ABC appears to be completely glossing over the crises that have consumed the Conways in recent months. The last time the family was in the news, it was because Kellyanne had somehow leaked a topless photo of her 16-year-old daughter on Twitter. The former senior Trump advisor is currently under investigation by police in New Jersey for that incident; they’d reportedly performed a welfare check just days prior, after Claudia posted video footage of her mother allegedly hurling verbal and physical abuse at the teen.

Claudia became a celebrity almost overnight this summer by publicly feuding with her MAGA-supporting mother on TikTok. When Kellyanne left her job at the White House in August, many credited her daughter, who had tweeted she was seeking emancipation from her parents just days earlier. (Her father, the conservative Never Trumper George Conway, also withdrew from his position at the Lincoln Project.)

But it’s all too clear that the public fascination with Claudia hasn’t been healthy for anybody, and while it’s not necessarily surprising that ABC is cashing in on her viral influence, it is disappointing. With that being said, we sincerely hope Claudia nails her audition and makes it to Hollywood. Pop-star boot camp might not be the worst place for her to spend a few weeks.